Location: Indiana, United States

I became a Professor Emeritus after serving 29 years as a recreational therapy faculty member at Indiana University. I'm a long-time Hoosier, having grown up in Hanover, Indiana. My RT practitioner work was in psych/mental health. After completing my Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, my first faculty position was at the University of North Texas. RT has been a wonderful profession for me as I have had the opportunity to serve as an author and national leader.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Universities and Professional Prep are Key

I was talking with an RT colleague this morning. In that conversation we both had to agree that for RT to fix what is a weakness today and to flourish in the future, we have to: (1)continue to develop and refine our body of knowledge; and (2) have students go through rigorous university professional preparation programs taught by competent faculty.

Any profession, RT included, has to determine exactly what the body of knowledge should be that is the basis for curriculum. Recently, in April, the Committee on Accreditation of Recreational Therapy Education (CARTE) became a Committee on Accreditation (CoA) of the Commission on Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). The CARTE standards outline the courses and experiences students need to become competent entry-level recreational therapists. The process of developing the CARTE accreditation standards helped identify what should be the body of knowledge for the profession, at least in terms of entry-level skills.

In order to move toward being assured that students go through rigorous professional preparation programs, universities must (at a minimum) adopt the CARTE accreditation standards. To be sure they do, universities will need to subject themselves to an accreditation review by CARTE.

The other necessary element in student preparation is having competent faculty to instruct the students. While many RT faculty today are well prepared, unfortunately many are not.

The profession needs to work with Ph.D. producing universities to see that these universities adequately prepare faculty for teaching positions and universities hiring faculty must only employ well prepared faculty -- and these universities must hire adequate numbers of faculty to assure a minimum of two qualified faculty teach in every university RT professional preparation program.

Without solid, rigorous professional preparation programs taught by competent faculty our profession is setting itself up for failure. I would much rather see us fix today's professional preparation programs and work toward future improvement so years down the line our profession can flourish.


Blogger Danny Pettry said...

As always... thanks for your post.

I follow your blog and read it at least once a week.

I think this is an important issue.

One of my concerns is for cities and states that don’t have any people with background and training in RT. Some RTs may move for jobs, but not always.

I am aware of many facilities that hire people as “recreation therapists” or “therapeutic recreation specialists” who don’t have any background training or experience in the field.

I am aware of one facility that 20% (2 out of 10) of their RT staff have a degree in recreation therapy or therapeutic recreation. Out of those two with degrees in the field (only one) or 10% holds national certification to practice therapeutic recreation.

I’d like to see state laws require RTs to have license to practice. Our society doesn’t allow unlicensed people to drive for safety. We don’t even allow beauticians to cut hair without a license. Recreational therapists work with people with series needs. These primarily consist of: psychiatric needs, physical/rehab needs, geriatric needs, or community services for people with disabilities. Naturally, we’d want someone who has the right training and preparation (colleges and universities) and are licensed to practice giving us evidence that the individual providing services has met standard requirements. We’d even feel better if that individual has a specialty certification for providing services for a certain area, in example: psychiatric care.

Just some thoughts.

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